Dress code policies at Recreation Center gets students talking
Tuesday, May 2, 2017
Recent changes to the way dress code policies are enforced at the Student Recreation Center at Southeast Missouri State University have students talking.
Associate Director of Recreation Services Eric Redinger said the dress code standards require students to wear unaltered clothes that cover the midriff, as a normal tank top would. Students are also allowed to wear clothing with thin straps that expose their shoulders and upper back.
“The intent is to have as little skin to equipment contact as possible,” Director of Recreation Services Mike Buck said. “We know that we can’t exclude that entirely, but our intent is to limit that.”
“If you have your own T-shirt that you cut yourself, those are much more likely to tear a lot further down the sides or to be purposely cut all down the sides, so it doesn’t cover that,” Redinger said. “It’s just much easier for staff to see an unaltered tank and it has those areas of coverage.”
Students can still wear their altered clothing to the recreation center, so long as they are wearing a tank top underneath that covers the midriff area.
In an effort to ease the transition to the restrictions, Redinger said the recreation center staff has tank tops on hand to give to students who show up without them.
“We didn’t want to turn anyone away,” Redinger said.
Buck said the recreation center gets a lot of its safety information and industry stands from its membership in the National Intramural Recreation Sports Association, an organization made up of thousands of schools across the country.
“What we are doing with our dress code is within industry standards,” Buck said. “We are not by any means the first [with a dress code]. We didn’t really enforce it until this last outbreak of mumps on our campus.”
Redinger said many NIRSA members require their students, at a minimum, to wear T-shirts with shorts sleeves.
“A lot of schools do that but we didn’t want to go that restrictive because we assume the students don’t want that,” Redinger said.
Buck said he has seen incidents where an individual with the mumps came to work out before finding out about his or her case of mumps and, as a result, the recreation center had to disinfect the entire facility.
Buck said the dress code is not new and has been around since he was a student in 1993. Due to the spread of infectious diseases such as parotitis (mumps), methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and other staphylococcal infections (staph) happening at colleges and universities all over the country, Buck said the recreation center is responding with ways to keep students safe.
Senior marketing sales management major Danny Sater said he finds the new restrictions annoying and does not know why they are in place.
“They’re worried about [infectious diseases] when people cough and sneeze on their hands but everything they’re touching is with their hands,” Sater said. “They have those spray bottles that are meant for [students] to spray the bench, so, if anything, that’s going to be cleaner than a dumbbell that someone picks up with their hands and then doesn’t clean.”
Sater says the most inconvenient part of the dress code is having to continually wash the tank top he got from the recreation center before working out.
Senior exercise science major Tatiana Reagan does not like the new dress code requirements or their timing at the end of the semester.
“It’s infringing on our rights as individuals to wear what we want,” Reagan said.
Reagan said she has not heard any of her friends or fellow students call the new requirements a good idea, even those who do not wear unaltered clothing in the first place.
“The mumps can be contracted through bodily fluids, like sweat, so we might as well all wear gloves, long-sleeved shirts and pants that will cover your entire body,” Reagan said. “You’re in the gym, you’re going to sweat.”
Reagan said the transmission of disease through sweat is still possible through some equipment at the gym that does not get cleaned immediately after usage, such as dumbbells and barbells.
Although there has been some backlash, Buck said he thinks most students will not have a huge problem complying with the new requirements.
“We try to take a very hands-off approach,” Buck said. “We don’t want to be intrusive, we want all our students to feel welcome but we have to take the necessary steps to make them safe. We’ve got to do everything we can to keep our students safe.”
Buck said his door is always open to answer student questions, and he hopes students realize the new dress requirements are in place for their safety and protection.
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